Images from James Clavell’s Walk Like A Dragon (1960). Starring Jack Lord, Nobu McCarthy, James Shigeta, Josephine Hutchinson, Mel Tormé, Lilyan Chauvin, Rodolfo Acosta, Natalie Trundy and Michael Pate. Pate, who previously starred as the first vampire in a Western (Curse of the Undead, 1959), plays the humane Reverend Will Allen. Seen above in image 6, Will agrees to marry “Linc” Bartlett (Lord) to his housekeeper Kim Sung (McCarthy) while Will’s wife Susan (Trundy) expresses her disapproval. Susan’s sentiments are also shared by most of the townsfolk.
SUSAN ALLEN: You’re not really going to marry them, are you?
WILL ALLEN: Wedlock’s a holy state, Susan. He’s a man and she’s a woman. Good Lord won’t raise an eyebrow, so why should we?
Having rescued her from slavery at a San Francisco auction, Linc not only deals with the town of Jericho’s bigotry but Chinese immigrant Cheng Lu’s (Shigeta) desire for Kim as well. And as Kim points out to Linc, it is perhaps better that she stay among her own people than reciprocate his love for her. At least in their lifetime.
Best remembered for his Asian Saga (which included King Rat and Shōgun), author James Clavell also wrote, directed and produced several films and television episodes. Among his film works are To Sir, with Love (1967) starring Sidney Poitier, and The Last Valley (1971) with Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Florinda Bolkan. Even though his second directorial effort (Walk Like A Dragon) was to be his only Western it was also a significant contribution to the genre with regards to the social content, as well as the quality of the writing. And it deserves to be rediscovered and celebrated.
Movie Trivia: Among his other notable credits, cinematographer Loyal Griggs also photographed George Stevens’ Shane (1953).
Book Trivia: Lincoln Bartlett is also the name of an American businessman who appears in Clavell’s novel Noble House, which takes place nearly a century after the story in Walk Like A Dragon.
Special thanks to author Edward M. Erdelac for continuing to recommend me some of the best hidden gems within my favorite genre. Click here for his review.